Friday, May 31, 2024

The dog walker

A beautiful day for the golfers. Blue skies, sunshine and the mildest bite of a breeze. There's already quite a crowd waiting to tee off by the time the starter shows up at six. The only topic of conversation among this mornings, primarily American crowd, is the 'Stormy Daniels' judgement.

One foursome has to pause while a local walks his black dog across a Right of way. An impatient man in a lilac Polo shirt observes that this ' wouldn't happen at Pebble Beach'.

The flags are out which gives the fairways a festive and cosmopolitan feel. The first of the major tournaments is about to start. Based on the number of trim and tanned Californian women wandering around the town we think it's a 'Ladies Golf Classic'.

Work on the Italian restaurant  finished last week. It has had a major and much needed 'makeover' . This morning two olive trees have appeared at the front door. They'll survive the cold but I'm not sure how they'll cope with the biting wind in winter.  Pot plants have also appeared on the outside tables . I'd wager that a combination of weather, day trippers looking for souvenirs and a general lack of care and attention will  mean they'll all be gone by August.

Do you have to be a Brit ( or an avid crime reader ) to be impressed by the witty name of this tree surgeon ?

Blogger is experiencing some sort of technical glitch so highlighting the daily links seems to be impossible. Also, the company that used to produce the hard copies of the blog once a year has gone out of business. Does anyone have any suggestions on a replacement printer ?

Restaurant reviews :

This becomes an increasingly important question with each passing year :

Question of the day :

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Green incentives.

A second day spent car hunting. We find a low key German EV at a 'good' price. It can manage 350 miles on a single charge which makes it practical even in a Scottish winter with the heater full on. When I call the power company to ask them to install the home charger and connection they inform me there's a lengthy  backlog and they're not adding any more names to the list. We could be waiting for a year or more. The idea of going all electric will need to be rethought.

The view of the sea and the sunrise from 'The Fonts' cabin signals that good weather is on its way after four days of rain showers.

In town high Cirrus clouds add to the belief that  summer is about to kick in. Back in France the village we used to live in has instituted water rationing - or so the man with anger management issues tells us. Water rationing is not a problem we are likely to face.

More Begonias being planted out. The university gardeners are very keen on Begonias.

The painting of the railings outside the university chapel continues. Four cheery workers already at work by seven am. At the wee house in town progress is slower. Yesterdays rain again stopped the decorators from working on the outside walls. They have however painted the floorboards in the kitchen. 

A fresh batch of frog cakes in the bakers window. What must the tourists think ? 

Things, as you can tell are quiet. There's a big golf tournament coming to the Old Course. Later today we shall wander down and watch them getting ready for the first tee off.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The old tree


We are thinking of buying a new car. Apart from the horrifying discovery of how expensive they've become we've learnt that 1) the service interval has now gone up to 15,000 miles - which is good  and 2) cars have become very intelligent-  which may or may not be good.

'To be perfectly honest' is an annoying  phrase that has recently become extremely popular.  Two years ago people rarely used it. Now it peppers conversations. Angus has to bite his tongue when he asks a car salesman about trim packages and gets told ' To be perfectly honest most buyers just opt for the luxury package'. Is this an altogether truthful reply ? It's certainly one that boosts the dealers margins.

There is much sprucing up taking place. Buildings are being repaired and repainted before the Summer school season starts. The flower beds in front of the old hall of residence are being planted out with begonias. Soon the place  will be full of teenagers on a four week summer school combining ' Friendship, scholarship and fun'. Within a fortnight the flower beds , and the begonias, will have a 'trampled on' look.

Our decorators have started repainting the house in town. They managed three hours on the outside walls before the rain started. They promise to be back today. The carpet fitters were due to be here but the carpet didn't arrive from the warehouse. They reschedule for mid-June.

The Mary Queen of Scots Thorn Tree is flowering. It was planted in the 1560's and has survived despite being in an area frequented by students and tourists. Someone in the Parks Department has arranged some traffic bollards around it in a vain hope to stop visitors from taking cuttings.

Colossal squid :

Is this a surprise ? :

Meanwhile in Georgia :

Tuesday, May 28, 2024



We're now into the second week of the 'snap' election campaign. Today pensioners are being offered tax cuts. Where the money will come from to fund this largesse is left unexplained although a man on the radio says it will come from plugging tax loopholes. One has to wonder why these mysterious loopholes weren't plugged ten years ago. Earlier in the week National Service was mooted. Who knows what else will be promised by the time we get to July 4th ? Christmas has come early .

The German family already down on the beach when we set off on our walk into town. Their bicycles propped up against the stone wall by the old lifeboat station.

The family greets us in flawless , although accented, English . They are enjoying their 'house swap' from big city Heidelberg. In fact they are 'thoroughly' enjoying their arrival in this small, traffic free, child friendly Scottish village. This morning they are having breakfast on the beach. The father explains that after three days of rain the children were keen to get out of the house. " I know it's mad to be out this early but we were all going stir crazy " he adds by way of , unneeded, justification. The six and four year old play Cowboys and Indians while the two year old discovers that dropping a sandwich in the sand isn't a good idea. We leave them alone after pointing out the location of shallow sandy bay where the children can swim safely.

The air clear this morning. The spires of the town visible in the distance. This is a view that can't have changed much in a thousand years.

Made in Iceland. Unlikely to find a home with us here but useful if you were in the far North of Scotland or Norway :

Every home should have one ? A 21st century Swiss Army knife :

A bit of a heart stopper but amazing flying skills  :

Monday, May 27, 2024

A wet Bank Holiday.

The election campaign continues to underwhelm. The outgoing Prime Minister has come up with the idea of mandatory National Service for 18 year olds. This tends to be a popular idea with those over 65 who think anyone under 25 is a delinquent but is, understandably, less popular with teenagers. The former head of the armed forces hasn't helped matters by calling the idea ' bonkers ' and saying the military needs more money to deal with threats not 700,000 untrained youngsters.

Here in Scotland the election is more interesting. The pro-independence party holds 40 or so out of 59 Scots seats in the Westminster parliament. It has been losing support due to some impenetrably complex scandal involving ( allegedly ) a £100,000 'luxury' motorhome bought with party funds. On a global scale this hardly qualifies as epic sleaze but some forecasts predict that as a result they will lose 30 seats, others say they'll only lose a handful. Our local  constituency remains unfashionably and intractably Liberal on the basis that being middle of the road is good for the soul.

It's a nationwide Bank holiday today. This means the weather is frightful. The town is packed with English visitors who hoped to enjoy sunshine and fresh air but instead are waking to find rain and sea fog.

Puppy is out early chasing crows. She is too busy to even notice us. Or, to be more precise, she sees us and then ignores us. We are less interesting that a flock of crows. That puts us in our place.

The sheep seem to have made a good job of clearing out the cauliflower field. Some rather sad looking stalks are all that remain. I'd guess they'll be moved into another field later this week.

The bakers window once again displays a sophistication that can best be described as 'unique'.

One entire bay is given over to frog cakes.

The town has that Marie Celeste feel to it. Graduation ceremonies start in 3 weeks so with exams marked and the students away many of the teaching staff have sensibly headed off to sunnier climes for a couple of weeks R&R.

This week we are expecting the decorators to paint the outside of the house in town, the roofers to replace some of the pantiles that were damaged in the February storm and the carpet fitters to measure up for replacement stair carpet. The exterior decorating may be put on hold until the rain stops. Come to think of it the roof repairs might also be delayed.

This 'research' will fire up the conversation around the family dinner table :

Sunday, May 26, 2024


A weather front passing through gives this mornings sky an 'architectural' look.

We set off on our walk . As we leave the courtyard and head onto the path down to the shore we can see there are twenty or so dolphins cavorting in the water. They must have found a shoal of fish. We stand and watch them for 35 minutes before they swim slowly  along the coast . That's an 11/10 experience. Look closely and you can see one of them leaping out of the water. There were moments when the sea was alive with their leaping but that, sadly, is beyond the camera lens on an i-Phone.

Saturday saw a steady stream of bird watchers walking along the farm track towards the heron pond. A serious gentleman in a Beanie hat tells us that the sea mists have disorientated many of the birds migrating  to Scandinavia. They've taken to resting here on their journey north. This is why so many exotic species are showing up unexpectedly -  a  'twitchers' delight. The man with the Beanie hat is excited. He's seen a Nightjar which - to me - looks like a sparrow.

Elder sister and 'Puppy' are happy with life. However, 'Puppy' is in trouble. She wandered off at lunchtime yesterday and was found on the 5 star hotel golf course. The green keepers put her in their workshop and phoned the farmers wife to come and collect her. 'Puppy' has no fear, is a free spirit and considers everyone to be part of her family. This combination of character traits is enough to give any dog owner an ulcer but is the ideal life for a dog.

Last night we go for dinner to a restaurant in one of the neighbouring villages. The lampshades are very Scottish. It's an English bank holiday and the place is full of trendy young Londoners bravely venturing North of Watford. They are 'lively' conversationalists.  We've not known noise levels like this in a restaurant since our last visit to Laguna Beach. Wooden walls and bare floors are trendy but reflect rather than muffle sound.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Limos , sausage rolls and fashionable kilts.


Signs and protective railings going up around town. The ducks are nesting. We tiptoe by.

Three lads emerge from Greggs with double orders of sausage rolls. Eating a sausage roll for breakfast is something best left to sixteen year old digestions. One of the boys has a Saltire woven into his kilt. You'd expect someone wearing a kilt to be Scottish so is this cultural adornment 'overkill' ? I've never seen anything like it before. Angus does not approve.

Lots of tour groups. As in scores of them. This is the busiest the town has been all year.  We can only imagine these are wannabe students ( and their parents ) preparing to apply for admission to the university in September 2025. 

Last night the restaurant we went to was solid with German couples dressed a tad too fashionably for these northern climes. The youngsters at the expensive school down by the cathedral have finished their final exams are now being collected by their parents and driven home. The school seems to be very popular with Germans wanting to send their children somewhere safe to learn English.

The local garden centre has taken delivery of an unusual brass garden ornament. Will it sell ? Who would buy it ? Where would you put it ?

We go to Starbucks for a morning espresso. While we're sitting at the table outside a large black electric limousine from one of the local 5 start hotels arrives. An immaculately dressed golfer gets out of the back, heads inside, orders a coffee and then re-emerges ( clutching his large Americano ) and tells the driver to take him to the Old Course. People watching in a small town like this is a delight. You have students, locals, academics, foreign visitors and ( in summer ) the 1%. Life is never dull.

Friday, May 24, 2024

The page turning.


Yesterday we managed to enjoy both sea fog and heavy rain. I would have thought to have both at the same time was impossible but Scottish weather can surprise even the Scots.

This morning its bright and fair. The wild flowers around the house clearly enjoying these rain one minute , sunshine the next conditions.

One of the old merchants houses in town has a door that's worthy of envy.

The church round the corner has door furniture that is  very similar. 

We're into the six week election campaign. This seems to be setting itself up as one of the stranger elections we've experienced. After Brexit, Covid and inflation the country is maxed out on politics but at the same time people are keen to have an election. There's still a long campaign to be fought but you can hear the page turning. 

Who would want to be a teacher ? Walking on eggshells :

Spreading round the globe :

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Election time.

We turn on the evening news and watch the British Prime Minister stand outside the front door of Downing Street to announce that a general election will be called on July 4th. The rain tumbles down, he gets soaked and the sound of 'Things can only get better ' echoes from protestors loudspeakers. Not, methinks , the image of strength and calm confidence he wanted to project. Updates on this will become addictive :

What I would call Fondant Fancies are displayed in the bakers window as 'French cakes'. What the French would make of this nomenclature is a question best left unasked.

A rose is thriving on the front wall of a house near the cinema. It's clearly enjoying the sea fog that rolls in early every morning. 

There is about a 1 in 7 chance of being successful in the ballot to play the Old Course. Those golfers who aren't lucky get in their minibuses and head off to play one of the ( many ) surrounding courses.  The secret to getting a winning ballot is to come in the off season or say that you're willing to play at any time. Don't even think of entering the ballot in July or August. We pass a group of unlucky balloteers are loading their clubs into the back of a minibus that will take them down the coast to Crail. Some of them are wearing shorts which strikes me as being a brave, if not foolhardy, choice for the Scottish climate in May. 

Nothing at the cinema that grabs our fancy.

The two ducks that usually parade up and down the shopping street have found a quiet spot in the uncut grass outside the Episcopal church. They seem happy with life.  Later this morning, for a touch of excitement,  we shall go to see how the painters are getting on with the railings outside chapel.

The country may be gearing up for an election frenzy but here life remains resolutely quiet.

Smart bird :

Sartorial problems - Scottish style :

Hope for chocolate lovers :

Election omens :

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

So quiet.

Town slowly filling up. In the evening packs of ever so slightly bored Australian and Americans fill the bars. There also seem to be a surprising number of late teens wandering around looking forlorn. We can only assume that they're here early for one of the summer sports camps. Last night there was a book reading in town. One of those weighty ' The challenges of the 21st Century' type affairs. We're rather surprised to find the venue packed to the rafters. We get the last two seats at the back. After that it's standing room only. A large group of Singaporean golfers have bought tickets. They listen politely and ask intelligent questions. What should last an hour takes two. From the large number of identical SUV's parked around town we think the golfers must be attending some sort of Lexus dealers gathering.

This morning elder sister arrives unannounced and uninvited in the Boot Room. 'Puppy' - we can safely assume - is still asleep. Elder sister is given a biscuit and retreats to the garden to enjoy it.

The refurbishment of the restaurant in town continues apace. This morning two large lorries are delivering tables, chairs and kitchen equipment. The old interior taken out and the new one installed in way less than a week.

Signs going up in front windows telling us which gardens are going to be open for Charities. Garden openings are a big thing here. 'The Garden with the Dragon' sounds like a must visit.

The little house at the 'T' junction is the sort of place we walk by three or four times a day and never notice. On a cloudy morning the door stands out and provides a ray of sunshine amid the murk.

In the hedgerows the first of the poppies coming into bloom. We pass two bird watchers hunting for Shrikes. The sea mist makes bird watching difficult and they soon give up and go. Life is quiet.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024



The first coach load of tourists disembark and head towards the cathedral. A disinterested tour leader with a stick and a flag leads them on. The enthusiastic culture vultures follow close behind. Teenagers and those who are wondering why in heavens name they ever agreed to a start of day tour are strung out behind. Some wear canary yellow jackets - others, sensibly, don't. All of them stop and stare as two helicopters fly by hugging the coast. Hedge Fund managers come to play a round on the Old Course with their clients.

The ladies outfitters has a new and exceedingly demure fashion display .

The sunny side of the shopping street already busy. All the outside tables and chairs full. Starbucks is clearly THE go to destination for tourists looking for an emergency caffeine infusion after the haul up from Edinburgh. The queue snakes from the counter to the front door. A group of eight are animatedly traying to decide what they want to order. They do this with a passion that sets them apart from the locals. They're talking in what I think is heavily accented Turkish but 'The Font' thinks is Hungarian.  We divert to the little Italian coffee shop by the kilt makers. 

The railings outside the chapel are being repainted. This is what counts as excitement in a small college town when the students are away. The old paint is being thoroughly removed and primer applied to the bare metal. This is 'no short cuts' work of a standard that only major clients like the university receive.

Down towards the golf course we pass the old hotel that's been gutted in readiness for work to start on 6 new 'luxury' apartments. Only the walls are left standing. 'The Font' wonders what constitutes a 'luxury' apartment. When was the last time you saw a property advert that didn't use the word luxury ?